The Arizona case, DC Lot v. Maxwell & Morgan, against a CAI HOA attorney regarding some $650,000 in missing HOA funds is closed or sealed. A court order is needed to unseal it. Even the court ordered closing and the reasons for its action are sealed. The public is being kept in the dark. Why? Now I can understand that maybe there are investigations or discoveries going on that certain parties shouldn’t know about, but this is a civil case, not criminal.
Remember, this is a case brought by the court appointed Receiver and not by just anybody else. The CAI attorney law firm of Maxwell & Morgan is being sued for aiding & abetting and disgorgement, among other things. Maxwell & Morgan are still practicing law. Maxwell has had a few sanctions against him. Why the secrecy?
The Arizona Capitol Times covered the underlying story in 2009, so there’s no secret anymore. The secret is the fact that a CAI member attorney is being sued for some serious wrongs. And if by some chance it is felt that open court records would diminish DC property values and that’s the justification for complete secrecy, something is rotten in Denmark and in Arizona.
Rule 123 of the Arizona Rules of the Supreme Court addresses the closing, “sealing,” of case records. R 123 allows the judge to seal it on his own, in the interest of the public, or upon motion of a party. What is the public interest being served here? Generally, the closing of a case, excluding the usual personal info like social security number, proprietary business data, etc., relates to juvenile and criminal proceedings.
R 123(c)(1) Open Records Policy. . . [T]he records in all courts . . . are presumed to be open to any member of the public . . . . However, in view of the countervailing interests of confidentiality, privacy or the best interests of the state public access to some court records may be restricted . . . . (My emphasis).
(d) Access to Case records. Upon closing any record the court shall state the reason for the action, including a reference to the statute, case, rule or administrative order relied upon.
It appears Rule 123(d) has been violated as there is no public record of the seal order. R 123(d) can’t mean that the reasons for closing records are to be kept secret, too, can it? Now, that would require extreme level of public protection, maybe national security level, to “erase” all the records, don’t you think? The case just “disappeared like smoke in the wind,” to quote colleague, and only because I had obtained the case number way back when has this fact come to light! What could justify a complete blackout?
It has similarities to another CAI member (Carpenter Hazlewood) case in which the Maricopa County superior court judged failed to give reasons for denying my motion to intervene (required so I could appeal the denial) in the OAH statute constitutionality case (Phoenix Townhouse v. AZ DFBLS), which was decided by default. And then all my submissions to the court were ordered stricken and the clerk was ordered not to accept any further materials from me. That material contained evidence that the “real person in interest” no longer existed as he no longer owned a lot in the HOA in question. Yet the decision was allowed to stand.
I am seeking assistance from concerned parties to help unseal these records, which smells of HOA attorney protection, and denying the people their right to public disclosure.